The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC),
in conjunction with the military services, provided additional
industry guidance on May 6 for the upcoming peak season. We are
pleased that the changes they are making implement several of the
suggestions from AMSA identifying changes that would help increase
industry capacity this summer and minimize service failures.
The changes SDDC has agreed to are temporary, but we believe
that if industry steps up and fully utilizes these changes to
provide good service, we will have a strong case to implement these
changes more broadly. However, if there are significant
service failures this summer despite these changes, SDDC may be
less likely to make future accommodations. Movers should make
every effort to ensure that customers are kept informed, and it is
important to show up when customers are scheduled for pick up.
We know that, even with these changes, there will not be enough
capacity this summer for all customers to move on their preferred
dates, so careful use of the shipment blackout capability will be
essential. Here are some of the key parts of the SDDC
message, along with AMSA's analysis:
1. For shipments with a pick up date between May 15 and July 31,
2011, SDDC will allow a limit of three (3) shipment
refusals per base (GBLOC). Shipment refusals must be
identified and returned within 24 hours (one business day) of
shipment award. Any shipment refused after 24 hours is
considered a turnback. The goal of this change is to allow
transportation service providers (TSPs) time to assess shipment
capability, reduce the use of DPS (the military's computer system)
blackout capability, and ultimately provide better service to our
Analysis: The focus here is on identifying
early when there is a problem. Don't wait until the last
minute to notice that you will have a problem servicing a
shipment. SDDC was very frustrated last summer when they saw
companies circulating lists of "giveaways" because that indicated
the TSP couldn't handle the shipment and didn't really care who
took it off their hands.
SDDC is also hoping that movers will relax their blackout dates
because of this change to free up some more capacity in areas where
they may have some limited (but not universal) capability.
While this makes sense, and movers should make as much capacity
available to the military as possible, it remains important to
ensure you have blackouts in place when you know that you will have
trouble servicing a shipment. The downside of taking a
shipment you can't handle is a very upset customer when the truck
doesn't show up. As we saw last summer, shipment offers can
come in waves faster than you can react. It is safer to have
some blackouts in place to minimize your exposure and focus your
shipments in the areas where you do have capacity.
2. Temporary elimination of the 70% rule (May
15 - July 31, 2011 only) for storage in-transit (SIT).
Personal Property Shipping Offices (PPSOs) must provide shipment
delivery instructions or authorize SIT within the required
two-hours' free waiting time (time starts when the TSP indicates in
DPS that the shipment has arrived at destination). This does
not eliminate the TSP's responsibilities to stay in contact with
service members who have a direct delivery address and to honor the
negotiated dates for delivery. Punitive action and/or low
customer satisfaction survey (CSS) scores are still likely for TSPs
who exceed the shipment's required delivery date (RDD) or do not
meet agreed upon dates for direct delivery.
Analysis: This change is a major improvement in
an area which has been very upsetting to many drivers and
agents. Having the ability to offload shipments quickly will
significantly help turn around trucks to pick up other
customers. The key is to remember that customer service
remains critically important to receiving a good score from the
customer survey, so drivers and movers who fail to communicate with
the customer will pay a price here if they try to take advantage of
this rule change. Movers should make reasonable attempts to
let the customer know of expected arrival at least 24 hours ahead
of time, rather than waiting for the two hour window to start
tracking them down.
Another problem we hear from SDDC is some agents are taking too
long to deliver shipments out of SIT upon customer request.
The rules allow five days, but the customer expectation is quicker
service than that. Companies that find a way to take care of
their customers when they are ready for their shipment to be
delivered will be rewarded with a good score, and the military will
be on the lookout for movers who take too long to make
deliveries. Agents may need to assign additional crews to
make deliveries in a timely manner, even if that means fewer crews
available for other jobs. Telling customers it will take two
or three weeks to get their shipment out of the warehouse will
cause SDDC to re-think this rule for future summers.
3. PPSOs must provide timely disposition instructions or
approval of SIT requests within the two hours' free
waiting time. PPSOs must take all necessary actions to ensure
preapproval of accessorial services and/or approval of SIT are
accomplished as early as possible to ensure industry capacity is
not unnecessarily delayed and available to support the shipments of
other service members.
Analysis: We have urged the military to speed
up approvals for SIT and other accessorials, which they are
supporting here. Movers must conduct timely pre-move surveys
to help speed this up.
4. PPSOs are encouraged to authorize origin SIT
for shipments that do not have a destination address and when line
haul capability is limited or unavailable. TSPs may also
request origin SIT approval from the PPSO, but not later than the
first pack date.
Analysis: Origin SIT can be a useful tool when
warehouses are full at destination, but the requirement to request
it before the pickup day may limit its usefulness in
emergencies. SDDC is also very concerned about shipments
being placed into SIT at destination after being released from SIT
at origin, so take extra care to avoid that situation. Prompt
deliveries are also important, as customers will not want to wait a
long time for their shipment once they are finally ready for
it. If that happens, SDDC may refuse to support origin SIT in
5. It is imperative that origin counselors do not put
any words or characters in block 18 (street address in
DPS) except when a valid direct delivery address is provided by the
Analysis: This has been an
ongoing complaint that counselors are circumventing the automatic
SIT approval process in DPS by entering phony data like "SIT" for
the delivery address. We hope this message helps reduce that
6. While code D is the preferred method of moving domestic
household goods, Code 2 is an option to utilize
during peak season.
Analysis: Containerized shipments (including
commercial containers) may be used to increase capacity in areas
where linehaul drivers are not available. We understand Code
2 booking should become available in DPS soon.
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